What Is SI Joint Dysfunction?

Sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction refers to a few conditions that cause instability and pain of the SI joint.

The Purpose of the SI Joint

The function of the SI joint is to transfer weight and forces due to movement from your upper body through the pelvis to your legs and vice versa. The SI joint is an essential component for shock absorption to prevent impact forces from reaching the spine during activity. The primary role of the SI joint is to provide stability for the pelvis and to bear the load of the upper body.

SI Joint Instability

SI joint dysfunction may occur when any, or all of the components necessary for SI joint stability are not functioning properly due to trauma, giving birth, degeneration, arthritis, or other conditions. When SI joint dysfunction occurs, the patient may or may not have pain in the SI joint itself. SI joint dysfunction may result in pain in the soft tissues around the SI joint and/or in other areas of the body that may be secondarily affected.

Testing for SI Joint Instability

SI joint pain is the term that is used when there is pain from the joint itself. Patients with SI joint pain typically have discomfort during provocative testing. The provocative tests are physical examination tests that stress the SI joint(s) in various directions. Studies have shown that if a patient has three or more positive tests on a cluster of 5 specific provocative tests, it is highly likely that the patient has pain arising in the SI joint.6,8,9

SI Joint Dysfunction Pain and Treatment

Pain from sacroiliac joint dysfunction can be felt anywhere in the low back, buttocks, or in the legs. Chronic SI joint pain symptoms can make it difficult to perform common daily tasks, and can affect many aspects of a patient's life.The good news is, there are thousands of doctors around the world who are trained in SI joint pain treatment, from conservative therapies to minimally invasive SI joint fusion surgery.

  1. Laslett M. Evidence Based Diagnosis and treatment of the painful Sacroiliac Joint. J Man Manip Ther. 2008; 16(3):142-52.

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